Where we are now: We are, as the attached screenshot shows, moored at the dock at Punta Arenas. A slew of new passengers will arrive today and we’ll be heading back to the Peninsula via the Drake Passage by this evening. The good news is that it appears I’ll be able to keep my cabin, which is great news: I not only don’t have to pack up everything and transfer rooms, but I get to keep my balcony.
Early morning in the harbor:
The passengers, up early, are taking buses to the airport for their “bubble” flight to Santiago:
More on Punta Arenas, a populous town of over 120,000 people, when I post the daily doings this afternoon.
Welcome to Thursday, March 17, 2022, and the day I leave on my second voyage to Antarctica. What lies in store? Will we see more penguins? Will we land in new places? Will the virus stalk us again? Stay tuned. I plan to post on new places, and less on places I’ve posted about on the first trip, though of course I will go ashore and take photos. Although much is uncertain, we do know that today is National Irish Food Day. We will have none of that aboard, and in general I find Irish cuisine dire. But their breads are good, as is Guinness.
If you wish, or are Jez Grove, please post the notable events, births, and deaths on this day from the March 17 Facebook page.
The NYT headlines are about the same as those for the past few days (click on the screenshot to read):
Here are the NYT’s pressing developments in Ukraine:
Children sheltering in a theater, parents waiting in line for bread and people simply seeking a night’s rest in their homes have become the latest civilians killed or feared dead in Ukraine as Russian forces taking heavy losses on the battlefield increasingly aim their bombs and missiles at towns and cities.
Rescuers on Thursday began pulling survivors from the wreckage of a theater in the besieged port city of Mariupol, an adviser to the city’s mayor said, a day after an apparent rocket attack destroyed the building where hundreds of people were believed to be taking shelter. The extent of casualties was unknown as Russian forces continued to shell the area, he said, hampering recovery efforts.
In addition, British intelligence has reported that the Russian invasion of Ukraine has “largely stalled”, with the invading troops sustaining heavy casualties and unable to occupy major cities. Russian troops are reported to have lost 7,000 men, and that will be at least 7,000 Russian families wondering about the usefulness of the war. (The Ukrainians report a Russian death toll of over 13,000, while the Russians aver that it’s only 498.)
In response to the U.S.’s big aid package to Ukraine, we’re now supplying the Ukrainians with “kamikaze drones” that are effective against Russian armor and can’t be shot down by Russian planes:
As part of the package, the Biden administration will provide Switchblade drones, according to people briefed on the plans. Military officials call the weapon, which is carried in a backpack, the “kamikaze drone” because it can be flown directly at a tank or a group of troops, and is destroyed when it hits the target and explodes.
“These were designed for U.S. Special Operations Command and are exactly the type of weapons systems that can have an immediate impact on the battlefield,” said Mick Mulroy, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense.
Finally, in response to a reporter’s question, Biden characterized Putin as a “war criminal”, which indeed he is. I do expect charges to be filed at the Hague, but I also expect that Putin will never face them.
But the Washington Post headline is a bit grimmer (click on screenshot):
Here are the two cities:
The fate of hundreds of people sheltering in a Mariupol theater that was destroyed remained unclear Thursday after Ukrainian officials said rescue efforts were hampered by rubble and continued shelling. City officials said the theater was targeted Wednesday by a Russian airstrike; Moscow denied responsibility. Satellite photos from before the attack showed the word “children,” written in large letters on the ground in Russian on both sides of the theater.
The other is Chernihiv:
Northeast of Chernihiv, a city of more than a quarter-million people, Maxar said it photographed burning homes on Wednesday. The company also said it captured Russian artillery and rocket launchers aimed toward Chernihiv from the outskirts of the city.
The WaPo also reports on Kharkiv:
More than 600 buildings have been destroyed in Ukraine’s second-largest city, home to 1.4 million people, Reuters reported. Shelling has destroyed residences, art museums, libraries and government buildings in a city known for its architecture.
Re the charge of war crimes, the WaPo adds this:
On Wednesday, an International Criminal Court prosecutor, Karim Khan, held a virtual meeting with President Volodymyr Zelensky while in Ukraine. Late last month, Mr. Khan said he was seeking authorization to open an investigation into the war, and that his office had already found “a reasonable basis” to believe war crimes had been committed. He said it “had identified potential cases that would be admissible.”
The Russian television producer who staged an extraordinary anti-war protest live on national television said she was “fearful for my safety” but would not “take a single word back” from her statement criticising Russia’s actions in Ukraine.
. . . She told Reuters her actions were intended to send a direct message to the Russian public: “Don’t be such zombies, don’t listen to this propaganda. Learn how to analyse information, learn how to find other sources of information, not just Russian state television.”
A Russian court fined Ovsyannikova 30,000 roubles (£215) on Tuesday for her recorded video in which she violated protest laws. The decision was met with relief by friends and supporters who feared the authorities were preparing serious criminal charges after she disappeared into police custody for nearly 24 hours after her arrest. She has not yet been prosecuted for her live protest on Channel One.
*The Wall Street Journal reports on a battle between Ukrainian and Russian soldiers that was a positive debacle for the Russians. It occurred near the town of Voznesensk:
A rapid Russian advance into the strategic southern town of 35,000 people, a gateway to a Ukrainian nuclear power station and pathway to attack Odessa from the back, would have showcased the Russian military’s abilities and severed Ukraine’s key communications lines.
Instead, the two-day battle of Voznesensk, details of which are only now emerging, turned decisively against the Russians. Judging from the destroyed and abandoned armor, Ukrainian forces, which comprised local volunteers and the professional military, eliminated most of a Russian battalion tactical group on March 2 and 3.
*Changing gears, there’s a WSJ article in which several American college students give short takes on the question “Is self-censorship taking over universities?” The consensus, with one exception, is “yes’ (one of the students is from the University of Chicago), but that one student says that it’s your own fault if you self-censor:
If I choose not to voice my opinion again out of fear of backlash, that is my choice, not censorship. I cannot complain about a perceived lack of debate in the classroom if I am the one refusing to engage. Neither can I expect my classmates not to debate with me, for then they would be the ones self-censoring.
—Carolyn Breckel, Yale University, molecular biophysics (Ph.D.)
I don’t think Ms. Breckel realizes that engagement itself doesn’t often lead to civil discussion, but often to ostracism and name-calling. It’s the climate that is detrimental, and that climate must be fixed.
*From its “education” issue, this Washington Post article (click on link or screenshot), discusses the desires of college students to discuss viewpoints different from theirs, but also their frustration in not having a venue to do so in a polite and constructive fashion. Thus was born the idea of “civil dialogue strategies” at various colleges. (h/t SImon).
The one described in detail is a seminar given at Penn:“Civil Dialogue Seminar: Civic Engagement in a Divided Nation.” It’s connected with “Red and Blue Exchanges”, in which students meet in (moderated) groups to hash out issues like race and immigration:
“We’re trying to put civic dialogue conversation in the context of American history,” Chris Satullo says. “We bring it up to date. This is a rolling conversation where every generation has to figure out how to resolve tensions among the founding ideals.” The class includes a crash course in social psychology — how people often let emotion dictate reason and the benefits and drawbacks to working as a group. Groupthink can “compound errors,” [teacher Chris] Satullo says. On the other hand, “All of us can be smarter than one of us.” The class teaches practical approaches to navigating a heated discussion. These aren’t all as obvious as “avoid stereotypes” or “use ‘I’ statements.” They cover how to frame contrary points of view, to be aware when your emotions are flaring, and how considering which perspectives aren’t present might change the whole discussion. Students receive facilitation training and are given the chance to moderate Red and Blue Exchange events.
There’s also a class called “with the unassuming title ‘Journalism and Public Service.’ The professor was critic and philosopher Carlin Romano, who took a Socratic approach: putting students on the spot and playing devil’s advocate.” That, too, was helpful, but it would have to be a psychological wizard to teach these classses. Nevertheless we need more of them—many more. And we need to give all students entering college a brief orientation to the First Amendment.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Andrzej is distressed by the Ukraine situation. (Note Szaron sleeping next to Hili):
Hili: Are you reading?A: I’m trying to but I can’t concentrate.
Hili: Czytasz?Ja: Próbuję, ale nie mogę się skupić.
And a picture of Kulka, who’s no longer little!
From reader David, a groaner:
From Lorenzo the Cat. Can anybody read the Ukrainian?
From Robert Price:
A tweet from God, who’s funny today:
I don't call your name when I create new stars from the dust clouds of galactic nebulae so please don't call Mine when you fuck.
— #GodStandsWithUkraine (@TheTweetOfGod) March 16, 2022
Are you or is someone you love suffering from Partisan Derangement Syndrome? pic.twitter.com/WQLDc9RO9N
— The Republican Accountability Project (@AccountableGOP) March 14, 2022
Tweets from Matthew. This is a very powerful (and in parts gruesome) video. It will achieve its aim of making you hate Putin even more, but it won’t get NATO to impose a “no fly” zone over Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Zelenskyy showed this powerful video to Congress, depicting Ukraine before and during the invasion.
The video ends with a familiar call for a no-fly zone: "Close the sky over Ukraine." pic.twitter.com/8nG0w9sv4y
— The Recount (@therecount) March 16, 2022
For chrissake, doesn’t this guy know that Zelensky’s clothes are his working uniform, the equivalent of an army officer’s uniform, and indicates how serious he is? I doubt that anybody would worry about him “disrespecting” Congress.
I understand times are hard, but doesn't the President of the #Ukraine own a suit? I don't have much respect for current members of the U.S. Congress either, but I still wouldn't address them wearing a t-shirt. I wouldn't want to disrespect the institution or the Unites States.
— Peter Schiff (@PeterSchiff) March 16, 2022
I found this one, in which Ziya Tong responds properly:
People are getting bombed and dying, they are at war and this guy expects dress shoes & cufflinks. What in the actual fuck. https://t.co/NccJuu3Y55
— Earthling (@ziyatong) March 16, 2022
You call that a sturgeon? Now this is a sturgeon!
Look at this beaut !!!!
A 10-ft sturgeon (approx 500 & 600 lbs) was recently caught, tagged, and re-released by a fishing guide in British Columbia. Guide Yves Bisson estimates the fish could've been more than 100 years old.
— Prof. Michael Sweet (@DiseaseMatters) March 16, 2022
This is all true but is spoiled by the bit of wokeness:
In ancient Greece, people couldn't own property, couldn't vote, and weren't allowed to participate in the government. Aristotle believed people were inferior to people, with pregnant people serving as mere vessels for the life principle delivered by people pic.twitter.com/XOJlQwxH2h
— Victoria Smith (@glosswitch) March 15, 2022
It’s always a good day when you can watch two minutes of shoebill behavior, particularly when this bird grabs a snack. If this weird animal didn’t exist, you couldn’t imagine it. Sound up:
Shoebill (Balaeniceps rex)🐦🦜🕊️🎵❤️ pic.twitter.com/ziPsjHCptN
— World birds (@worldbirds32) August 13, 2020